by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 August 23, 2015 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(015)Thesis:"Payback" is a "legitimate" course of action for God.
Introduction:Last week we saw that Paul was arguing that it was "legitimate" for God to "count the Thessalonians worthy of the Kingdom of the God". This "legitimacy" issue is raised because of the "problem" of men being considered worthy of the Kingdom of a Just God Who considers both motive and action before making a "decision" ("judgment"). Paul's argument is a tad complicated, but its roots are established in the fact that it is God's decision to "count a person worthy" that produces the behavior of those who have been considered worthy by Him. Thus, the suffering of the Thessalonians is presented as an "after the fact" reality that is clearly visible (a "manifest token") that calls for a decision about where this "suffering" is coming from. Paul's Gospel is that people do things because of what they believe and "believing" results in loyalty to the Kingdom to some degree. That the Thessalonians were suffering for the Kingdom indicates that they have been counted worthy by God.
Today we are going to begin to look into Paul's supporting argument for the "legitimacy" of God counting sinners worthy of His Kingdom.
I. Paul's "Connector".
A. The conjunction Paul used is not widely used in the New Testament.
1) Paul uses it five times in a consistent way.
2) Peter uses it once with the same sense.
B. The connector indicates that a "reason" for the previous statement is coming.
1) Sometimes this connector is used to indicate that there is a "qualifier" to the statement made.
2) Sometimes it is used to indicate a basic reality that exists.
C. In our text, it is used to indicate a foundational reality that makes the declaration true.
II. The Foundational Reality.
A. Paul claims that God's decisions are rooted in a fundamental "recompense" approach to dealing with His creation.
1. Recompense is simply "payback" for deeds done.
2. Typically there is a straight line between what a person does and what God "pays back" as indicated in 1:6-7.
B. In the presentation of Paul's theology of "recompense", he makes it clear that no one escapes this fundamental reality.
1. In Romans 2 Paul argues that God will recompense every man according to his/her deeds.
2. Because "payback" is an extensive concept in "legal" theology, we must understand what Paul is saying.
a. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 he makes it as clear as he can that the Gospel makes no promise that "payback" has been suspended in God's dealings with people.
b. The Gospel, Paul says, reveals a second method of acquiring the righteousness of God (Romans 1:16-17), but the point is that it is the "righteousness of God" is an absolute necessity for qualification for the Kingdom.
c. The primary distinction between "legal" payback and "Gospel" payback is not to be found in the elimination of the necessity of righteousness for a "good" payback, but, rather, in the appropriation of a "grace" methodology for the acquisition and practice of that necessary righteousness.
1) "Legal" payback as referenced in Romans 2 has to do with whether, or not, a person is qualified to "enter" the Kingdom of the God.
2) "Grace" payback as referenced in 2 Corinthians 5 has to do with where, in that Kingdom, a person is going to be in the matter of "participation" in the daily functions of the Kingdom.
3) The two part company at the "production" level in terms of roots: Law requires a person to produce the necessary motivation and performance required of that Law; Grace promises a person that the proper performance will arise when "faith" is being exercised because the Spirit of Christ has been given to produce the required behavior for those who depend upon Him.
3. Thus, the issue is "what is done" and "how God is going to respond".
a. In our context, there are two things being done: persecution and suffering.
b. In our context, there are two divine responses: the persecutors get persecuted and the sufferers get "rest".
1) The issue is "tribulation" as significant pressure.
2) The issue of "rest" is "a broad place with no pressures.
III. The "Legitimacy" Issue.
A. It is "legitimate" for God to respond to the behavior of people with "payback".
B. The dual methodologies come with fundamental principles in place and operating according to those principles is "legitimate".